Simone Richardson drops in on a Pure Vinyl Straight Pocket jam session
Claudia Wilson, owner of Brixton’s Pure Vinyl in the Department Store development on Ferndale Road occasionally DJs herself – a “bit of soul, bit of funk and a bit of jazz” – which she enjoyed doing at The Ritzy on New Year’s Eve.
But it seems Claudia’s thoughts are now turning to promoting others’ talents. She helps to promote new young bands on the second Sunday of each month at The Ritzy, saying they are “amazingly talented”.
She has also brought in truly talented musicians to play live at Pure Vinyl in an event which began as a jam night on irregular Mondays last May. Now it is regular event.
Claudia explains that it happened with the help of Renato Paris (above) the originator of the Straight Pocket jam night. A few other musicians joined with him when it started – including Jonathan Moko on bass and Andrew McLean on drums.
Andrew learnt to drum when he was 11 and has worked professionally since 19, backing Grace Jones and the Sugababes, among others. “I just love being able to express myself and being creative on the spot,” he says. “Love the interaction between myself and the crowd at the Pure Vinyl – it’s amazing to do.”
Now the number of musicians and audience at Pure Vinyl’s not-so-large shop have grown and grown – but anyone can watch and listen to recordings on the Pure Vinyl website and Facebook page.
Straight Pocket is now on in Brixton, free, every single week from 8pm and is well worth a visit.
“Watching and hearing the musicians together it is like they came together as if a single performer,” says Claudia. “It’s as if they have been together for many years.
“It is free to enjoy and generates interest in the shop. It will encourage musicians to collaborate and hopefully get recorded on records themselves for me to sell their talent.”
South Londoner Renato Paris says he has been singing since he was born and leant the piano towards the end of primary school.
“The beauty of the jam session is that there is no regular band each week and no standard songs or tunes to know. Looking back at the sessions since we started shows us that you never know who is going to walk through the door.”
That was certainly the case on Monday 6 January this year when bass guitar maestro Thundercat (Stephen Bruner) just came in and played brilliantly. “It was surreal, it being the first Straight Pocket of 2020. There was really a lot of energy in the room and him jumping up too was the cherry on top! I loved the fact that he listened and played with us rather that at us, which gelled with the essence of the night.”
As well as playing keyboards and singing, Renato has also played guitar, bass and drums. But his voice is now his favourite instrument.
His love of music has taken him to perform all over the world from Rome to LA and back home to Brixton.
Now he is looking forward to touring Europe with London jazz scene pioneer Moses Boyd next month – a tour that closes on 12 March at Electric Brixton.